Starting a Podcast on the Cheap – a Guide for Small Shops

We created a podcast during the 2020 COVID 19 lockdown. We’ve had a few people ask us about podcasting and how we set ourselves up to do it. This is a (very) rough and ready guide to Starting a Podcast on the Cheap, sharing everything we learned. 

Starting a Podcast on the Cheap – Research

So initially we went about this in the way we always go about things. Me reading everything I could possibly find about podcasting, contemplating courses, attending virtual presentations and workshops, agonising over tech we would use, reading every ebook in the world. Andy meanwhile just wandered into the kitchen at some point and said “shall we just buy a microphone and get going?”

And that’s what we did.

There is an awful lot of information online about starting a podcast, and some rather expensive courses. I’m quite sure that, had we paid money to learn this stuff, our podcasts could have been of better quality right from the start – for we definitely learned as we went along. However I am the sort of person that could have spent 6 months making sure everything was absolutely perfect before I was ready to launch.

Meanwhile the country was in a national lockdown, and we knew there were shop owners who might be helped by what we had to say. About selling on third party platforms so that, even though your shop was forced to close, you could still sell your stock online. About how multiple income streams are the answer to cashflow hell. About how there are only 3 ways to grow your business. About how, if you weren't online yet, you really needed to choose an Ecommerce platform and get going. How we all had to stay positive and focused, and that COVID 19 wasn’t the end of our businesses. Even though, for some, it may have felt like it.

It seemed like this was our time. And done is better than perfect, as they say. So we didn’t learn from courses. We just did it.

Equipment. Don’t Overcomplicate Things

Because I’d read so much conflicting advice, I felt a bit bamboozled when it came to choosing the tech. We ended up choosing a Blue Yeti Microphone Nano Premium which, I have to say, is utterly brilliant. I’m a little bit in love with it actually. The sound is fantastic and, when I speak into it I feel like a rock star.

We now use this mic when we do our Lives in The Small Retailer Lounge too. The idea being that, if we had decided to repurpose any of them into a podcast, the sound quality would have been good enough to do that. That said, I’m not sure our podcast listeners would have wanted to listen to us chatting away about what zoom cheese tasting we’re doing tonight and what we’re all were up to this weekend. Or rather, we weren't up to, because this was during a national lockdown.

You might be wondering about the egg boxes. Well, this really was a case of ‘don’t overcomplicate it’. We could have invested in a microphone sound shield to block unwanted sounds from our mic, such as the boys gaming upstairs and Nero the Shop Cat having one of her howling sessions. But as the average podcast only lasts for 7 episodes, we didn’t want a house full of equipment we may not use very much. Hence Andy built the egg box version with cardboard and fragile tape from the shop. I grew rather fond of it.

When we recorded a podcast, we simply connected the mic to a laptop we already had. So in terms of equipment… that’s it.

Recording and Editing. Don’t Overcomplicate Things.

We started out using Online Voice Recorder which did exactly what we needed it to do. Andy then took the recordings and used mp3cut to cut bits out, audio-joiner to join bits together and auphonic to level the sound out and remove any cat howls that may have snuck in. All this software is available online for free.

Intros and Outros

Some people don’t bother with intros and outros in their podcasts, but our lovely friend Nicky Griffiths is a wonderful voice over artist and we knew she would do a fantastic job for us. So we went for it… and we were so glad we did!

But in short, other than having a wonderful voice over artist help us, we did everything else on the cheap.

Podcast Hosting and Ratings

We decided to go with Buzzsprout to host our podcasts. We chose Buzzsprout simply because it seemed to be the easiest way to get going. Their interface is clear and simple to understand. Your podcasts are hosted there for the first 90 days completely free. Buzzsprout provides a podcasting platform, promotional tools, and lots of lovely stats. It also offers loads of free training. At one point, I noticed we'd had hundreds of downloads of our podcast. This all went to my head a bit, it was all terribly exciting.

Hopefully this brief overview will help you to get started. If you’ve had the urge to start a podcast, there really has never been a better time. I thought the market might be saturated. However when I started sharing our podcast I discovered that, for some people, ours was literally the first podcast they had ever listened to. So lots of room out there yet!

Plus the biggest bonus of all: start a podcast tomorrow and then, when you search your name in Spotify, there you will be. Rock star indeed.

So where's this Podcast, then?

You're reading this and waiting for me to plug our podcast. And wondering why I haven't. So here comes the full disclosure part: we produced podcasts for a few months and then we stopped after 19 episodes. We thought we'd done 20, but I seem to have lost the last one unfortunately.

Why, I hear you cry?

It was all about resources. Or rather, lack of them. I bang on all the time about having no staff, it being just the two of us. Producing a podcast well takes time, and you owe it to your listeners to put the effort in. During lockdown somehow it felt like we had time (despite being busier in the shop than we ever imagined we would be). Within a few months, it didn't feel like we had any time at all. Plus we signed up to become a Net Zero Business and Home by 2030, and had a long, hard look at our list of suppliers and the things we were spending our energy on. I'm afraid the podcast simply didn't make the cut.

However we know at least one person who followed the guidance in this article and set up their own podcast successfully. And we are still asked about it. Which is why I share it here. And who knows, we may pick it up again one day.

The irony of course is we produced a podcast about growing shop sales, and then grew our shop sales so much that we didn't have time to produce a podcast. 


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